Aim: To assess whether the early regurgitation of intravenous contrast medium into the inferior vena cava (IVC) and/or hepatic veins on computed tomography (CT), indicates tricuspid regurgitation (TR), and if so, whether it be used to grade severity.
Materials and methods: We identified 86 consecutive patients that had been investigated for possible pulmonary endarterectomy at Papworth Hospital. From these, 61 patients were selected in whom CT, transthoracic echocardiography, and right heart catheterization (RHC) had been performed within 6 weeks. Using an arbitrary visual scale, the degree of TR assessed by intravenous contrast-enhanced CT was compared with echocardiography. Results were analysed using a kappa weighted statistical test. In addition, CT and echocardiographic assessments of TR severity were correlated with pulmonary artery pressure measurements obtained by RHC (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient).
Results: CT assessment of TR had a sensitivity of 90.4% and a specificity of 100% in detecting echocardiographic TR. For TR graded as more than trivial by echocardiography, sensitivity of CT was 100%. With respect to RHC data, the correlation between severity assessment of TR between CT and echocardiography using the Kappa weighted coefficient was 0.56 (moderately good agreement). With respect to RHC data, the correlation between mean pulmonary pressure and TR grading on CT and echocardiography was r = 0.685 (p < 0.001) and r = 0.727 (p < 0.001), respectively.
Conclusion: Early opacification of the IVC or hepatic veins on first-pass contrast-enhanced CT almost invariably indicates TR. There is moderately good agreement between CT and echocardiographic assessment of the severity of TR. Both CT and echocardiographic grading of TR correlate well with RHC measurements of pulmonary artery pressure.
Copyright 2004 The Royal College of Radiologists